Thursday, May 7, 2009

Divine domains: A Divine Power Preview

This is hardly breaking news, since it appeared on last month's Ampersand article in DDI. Nevertheless, the material is interesting enough to comment, even if late: Divine Power will introduce Domains for divine classes in 4E. They will grant new feat choices to worshippers of appropiate gods - each god has 2 or 3 associated domains, out of more than 30. For each domain, there will be Divinity Feats (granting new Channel Divinity powers, just like other divine feats we already have) and Domain Feats, which provide a small skill bonus and modify specific at-will powers.

I can't say I care much for the new Channel Divinity options, as the concept of CD has always been a bit flawed to me. You have zillions of powers fighting for the same space - the single Channel use per encounter. In this respect, Clerics and Paladins at least had the upside (I guess) of crappy baseline CD powers, so they had some incentive to grab at least one feat to gain access to a better one. But Avengers and Invokers actually do cool things with this feature, even in encounters without undead! It's a bit sad that so many feats are wasted on Channel Divinity, when no sane PC would ever take more than one. Unless, of course, Divine Power introduces some way to recharge CD. If they did that (and I can't think of a reason they wouldn't), I could start looking forward to this kind of feats.

On the other hand, at-will power tweaking is something I really enjoy, as readers of this blog (the two of them!) should already know. The method used here should be familiar to Dragon magazine readers, as some of its best recent articles (the ones on Gladiators and Assassins) did the same: A series of feats, each granting one single benefit to an at-will from each class of the power source. As an example, the Civilization Domain (for worshippers of Erathis, Asmoedus, or Sid Meier) gives extra damage to characters surrounded by enemies. Creation Domain temporarily improves your armor, whereas Justice domain improves the attack of nearby, bloodied allies. The effects seem to be simple, but effective, and the choice of powers to improve looks well thought.

An added perk of this kind of previews is that half the referenced at-will powers are unknown to us, as they appear in Divine Power themselves. This way, rumor addicts like me can enjoy speculating about names and context, trying to guess their effects. At the very least, we will know the minimum number of at-wills that some classes will get. Here are the names I could take from the article:

  • Avenger: Leading strike, Bond of Censure
  • Invoker: Mantle of the Infidel
  • Paladin: Virtuous Strike

Unfortunately, this is terribly short on speculative material. The avenger and paladin powers could be about anything, really. We have nothing new on clerics (though I hope they, as well as paladins, get 3-4 new, decent at-wills, to compensate for their double ability score problem). The only interesting tidbit is that the Invoker one, Mantle of the Infidel, is supposed to work when several enemies are in melee, so it should be either melee or close. With that name, I'd bet it's something like Close Burst 1, which would be rather nice with the Civilization bonus. We'll see in a few months.

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